Open source & automation & free time

I attended a session this morning on the Changing Face of Library Automation and Open Source by Ken Chad. He is a consultant who, among other things, helps library systems during the change-over to a new ILS vendor. He started with an overview of the state of the library market (with a UK bias) and actually began by talking about Google. A frequent message I’ve heard in the conference, and he reiterated, was that Google is a library company – their mission statement makes them definitely “one of us”. Ken stated that they got into the library world in the reverse, though, by starting with search and moving on to collections (via Google book digitization, Google Scholar, etc), rather than starting with a collection and branching out to searching that collection, as libraries do. He reviewed the UK based vendor landscape and showed that change of ownership and/or consolidation is happening everywhere. He then listed the influences of vendor strategies:

  • Web 2.0
  • New User Behavior
  • W3C standards (web services, etc.)
  • Need for increased productivity at reduced cost of ownership

Ken then brought up the “Amazon-like” recommendations engines and how libraries and vendors aren’t offering anything like it – yet. Next was a look at the fact that the market is failing (he mentioned the “Opac Sucks” conversations in the US from a while back) and said that this will open the way for open source.
He mentioned, during the second half of the program, social production (people giving their time w/others to produce goods – such as Linux – for free), passionate amateurs (LibraryThing’s Tim Spaulding, for one) and that “most creativity is collaborative”. He advocates for the library to be a platform for collaboration and creativity. The audience then chimed in on the concept of a sense of value – Radiohead’s recent release of an album without a price, the users could just pay what they thought it was worth. One lady said that 80% of the downloads were paid for. She also brought up the concept of restaurants that don’t have fixed prices and the fact that people are paying enough for the food that they are making a profit.
Finally, the discussion centered on open source alternatives to traditional ILS offerings and how they are used in libraries. Several people are using solutions such as Koha or Evergreen. One gentleman said that he had used a commercial VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) that was so bad, they ended up recreating one in Facebook!
All in all it was a good presentation and an interesting discussion!

Library Learning 2.0 class, take 1

The class went quite well – it was a packed room of attentive and interested folks! Nothing better than that! The presentation is published via Google Docs, so if you want to see the updated version of our dog & pony show, take a look!

Selling a Fag in England

So last night, about 11pm, I went out for my last smoke of the night. While I was out there, I was approached by a middle-aged English woman, asking me if she could buy a fag off of me. While I thought I was prepared for that question, I apparently wasn’t. I giggled. I then told her that there was no need for money, I believe in smoker’s karma – I donate one to you, there will be one for me when I need one. She insisted, and gave me 25p (about 55 cents) for one cigarette. What this taught me? I’m still juvenile enough to get a giggle out of selling a fag (for under a dollar, even!) on the streets of England and that cigs here must be rather expensive and I’m glad I brought my own!

Wandering In Torquay

We ate PICT0010, we walked around Torquay’s harbor and did all manner of window shopping before we stopped off at the Living Coasts (with my pics on Flickr) and wandered through that “coastal zoo”. We have been busy! I also stopped off at a bar and had a “Devon cream tea”, consisting of 2 scones, jam, devon clotted cream and a pot of tea. It was AMAZING. I may be hooked!! After all that, I took a nap and then Bobbi and I went down to dinner at the conference. It was an international buffet, which was good (not as good as last night, but what can you do?). We discussed library differences between UK and US libraries (not so many?) and had a good time. Now it is almost 11pm and I’m ready for bed!

Traveling Fool – my pics of my journey from Missouri to Torquay, Devon, UK. Long and arduous – but totally worth it! I’m off to the 2nd conference reception and dinner – the first (last night) was freakin’ awesome, so I’m looking forward to tonight. More later!

Connections Conference, Take 1

Oh! I like 45 minute breaks between classes – it allows me time to blog! This morning, I skipped the very first class (on campus-wide alert systems, by the people who managed Virginia Tech’s system) in order to get ready for my session. Sorry to anyone who wanted to learn more about how V Tech coped with the shooter tragedy last year.
My session was the second of the day and it went very well. The participants were active and asked great questions, as well as suggesting great ideas for mashups (maps of school bus routes, maps of school sporting events, maps of campus with pictures of the buildings in the descriptions and using Google’s directions feature to get from one building to another, etc.). The wireless kept going down during the session time, but we just did the ideas/questions part of the session while it was down and did the demonstration of Popfly, Pipes and Google Maps while it was up.
The third session was on disaster recovery. I have some work to do when I get back… There were some great bits of info in that session, all of which mean more work for Nikki & I! Asset tracking and the transition of disaster recovery planning to business continuity planning were the main themes. The presenter, an employee of Springnet – the part of Springfield’s utility service that handles telecommunications and data services – was really thorough about covering the requirements for a good BCP (Business Continuity Plan) and had several good ideas, including getting pictures or video of the server room to document exactly what was in there in a visual, quick-to-access way.
Nikki has been attending some good sessions as well. She’s covered planning ahead with public access PCs, Web 2.0 and securing public access PCs. She’s saying that she’s learning lots and is pretty excited about the conference and what she’s getting out of it.

Next is “real world wireless implementations”, which is apparently aimed at beginners who are in the planning phase of wireless, but might have some good info anyway. If it doesn’t, I’ll skip out early and come back to the room to rest before tearing up the Texas Hold ’em tournament tonight!
More later!!


Something crazy happened when I updated WordPress to version 2.5 this afternoon – all my categories ran away. I imagine this will cause some issues until I go through and recategorize ALL my posts, but until then, please bear with me!

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